The High Call of Husbandry: A Noble Aspiration
This Valentine’s Day weekend the LORD implored me to write this post on “the high call of husbandry”. And although I’ve been hesitant, I must be obedient.
This is a subject He’s talked with me about for years. As one who has studied marriage and family and obtained a degree in that area, the LORD graciously extended my education on the subject long after I graduated. Suffice it to say that I’ve been privately tutored by Him in His Word under the clandestine privacy of His holy wing for the last twenty-plus years. It is now that He wants me to begin writing on this topic, which surprises me.
There are many, many passages in scripture for women on how to be a godly woman and become a godly wife. I’ve thoroughly digested every single one of those passages. But God didn’t stop there. He also schooled me intimately on what He termed “the high call of husbandry”. And I’d like to briefly share some of the highlights of those lessons with you.
With that said there are not as many passages found in scripture specific to that of a husband. And here’s why: the LORD Himself has provided us the perfect model of what a husband truly is and should be. When studied, one will find the term intimately attached to Him over and over – and over again.
So what is a husband, really? Let’s find out. Because not many in this day and age aspire to its nobility. Few men, I’ve found, truly understand the call. And even fewer actually embrace it.
The first time the term husband is used is in Genesis 3:6 when Eve offers Adam the forbidden fruit. This is the first time we see Adam termed in this manner, which reveals not only his position in relation to her at that moment, but also his responsibility.
The Hebrew word for husband is “iysh”, which is phonetically pronounced: eesh. The most base form of this word means “man”. However it is so much more. And if the term man were sufficient, let it be known that “Adam” actually means “man”. Therefore, according to Thayer and Strong’s a husband is not merely a man, but a man who is a champion, a man of greatness, and a worthy steward who is directly contrasted with God, Himself.
That puts a new spin on it, doesn’t it? So Eve handed her man of greatness; her champion and worthy steward who is like God, an apple — and her husband took and ate. I just love the light this word shines upon the context of this particular verse. Adam was now more than just “Adam”. He was more than just a man. He was now her “husband”. He was a great man, a champion, and a worthy steward of his wife who is in contrast with God.
But this portrayal doesn’t stop at Genesis 3:6. The word “husband” is found 99 times in the Old Testament, and 60 times in the New Testament. And just in case you’re curious, the word “wife” is found 298 times in the Old Testament, and 75 times in the New Testament.
When referenced appropriately, we soon find that God refers to Himself as our Husband on a regular basis. This is a role He assumes on behalf of all mankind. Therefore let us understand that the term “husband” does not automatically inherit a romantic connotation. Not at all. Rather, it is one of great position, responsibility and subsequent nobility.
As for God, He is responsible for all creation. He is our Husband in that He takes full responsibility for caring for us. In John 15:1 Christ calls the Father our “husbandman” who prunes and purges the branches of the Vine that they may bear more fruit. In 1 Corinthians 3:9 Paul speaks to believers, calling them God’s “husbandry”. And in 2 Corinthians 11:2 Paul speaks to the Church as being jealous for them, having espoused them to but one Husband, who is Christ. These are only a few examples of many more.
God Our Husband & Christ Our Bridegroom
Throughout the Old Testament God refers to Israel as His chosen bride, referencing Himself numerous times in scripture as Israel’s Husband – and a very jealous one over a nation who played the harlot with Him. We see this allegory rendered in several texts, including the prophetic books of Isaiah and Hosea, which are perhaps the most noteworthy. This prophetic allegory continues in the New Testament when Christ refers to Himself as our Bridegroom. What Gentile believers may not realize is that Christ carefully fulfills the Jewish custom found in a traditional marriage ceremony at the last supper, by which He presents to His disciples the cup of His blood which He then asks them to drink. In doing so, He further tells them to remember Him, and that He will not leave them as orphans, but will prepare a place for them where He is in His kingdom, and eventually return for them. In the same way, a man returns for His elect bride following the traditional engagement which is officiated when his bride drinks the cup he offers. Typically, a year of engagement passes during which time he prepares a home for them at his father’s estate. Only when his father tells him all is ready, is he free to go get his bride and bring her back home.
At the appointed time of his father the bridegroom appears suddenly, at night, followed by a throng of citizens in the city streets. In this way, the bride must prepare and be ever ready to meet her bridegroom. She has no idea when he will actually come. She indeed knows the season, but not the day or hour.
This traditional ceremony found in Jewish weddings gives us a greater understanding, not only of what to anticipate in Christ’s return, but also the position and responsibility of the husband. The cup of suffering which Christ drank, He shared with His elect, which signifies the ultimate sacrifice all men must be willing to make for their wives. When the bride accepts a proposal, she drinks of the cup offered to her, which represents his blood, and by that alone is bound to the blood covenant of her bridegroom until their marriage day. According to Jewish custom a betrothal is just as sacred as a marriage. It cannot be broken except by divorce. Within this engagement (betrothal) a man officially becomes her husband, and a woman officially becomes his wife.
God has clearly demonstrated the position and responsibility of a husband
throughout the Old and New covenant.
And so what is the position, and what are the responsibilities to which God calls every man who is a husband? That is what this post will explore and attempt to explain. By the time it’s finished, my prayer is that any man who reads it will have a clearer understanding of his divine role within his marriage and family.
In Contrast with God: The Head
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God, (1 Corinthians 11:3, KJV).
Regardless of equality in the Body of Christ, God still establishes a divine order. Order and equality are two entirely different things. Equality speaks to inherent worth or value. God is no respecter of persons in this regard. He treats us all the same. He does not favor one above the other. That we know clearly. However, His order is just as clearly defined for us in the above passage, which aligns with the entire Word of God since the beginning.
We are told as women to be subject to our husbands; to submit to them as unto the LORD (that’s a key clause which must be noted, by the way). We are all ultimately responsible to the LORD. And He is our husband before any man. No woman is under obligation to disobey God in favor of obeying her husband who is in disobedience to Him. That is clearly out of order.
With that said, man is the head of woman. Period. And once that man assumes responsibility for a wife, the role of “husband” comes into play. He is solely responsible for her. He becomes a steward of her life unto God in every area.
A husband is the one who leads his wife and family back to the Head, who is God.
The Worthy Steward: A Sacrificial Love
God is the head of man. Man is the head of woman. And so we find the following in scripture, which Christ models for His Body:
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband, (Ephesians 5:23-33, KJV).
When Adam first saw Eve he said this:
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man, (Genesis 2:22-23, KJV, emphasis mine).
Adam recognized himself in her.
He called her, “Woman”. That was the name Adam initially gave her, because she was part of him. This name, “Woman”, reveals the oneness they had with each other. How beautiful.
To this day that pattern of recognition has not changed. There are many love stories out there, and it’s not uncommon at all for a man to say, “I saw her and I knew she was the one.” Why? Because he saw himself in her. That is a biblical pattern ordained since creation.
Part of the high call of husbandry is for a man to love his wife, even as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. That call requires a passionate and sacrificial love that spares nothing to preserve her very life and well-being. We see that love to be one that “nourishes”, “cherishes”, and “cleanses” her. This implies that the wife needs her husband’s help if these things are going to be achieved or realized. The wife requires her husband’s assistance to become the woman he desires so he may present her to himself a radiant bride.
When men decorate their wives physically with jewels and clothes, I believe they are manifesting their God-given role and purpose in a very physical manner. They adorn her, even as Christ adorns us with His righteousness for Himself. But husbands need not stop there. The greatest way a husband can adorn his wife is by decking her soul with his love and affection. In doing so she will blossom. A woman who is loved and cared for by her husband will bring him great glory, even as the Body of Christ brings glory to the LORD, her heavenly bridegroom when He pours His Spirit into her. The more He pours out His Spirit, and the more we dwell in His loving presence being nourished by Him, the more we become like Him. In turn, we bring Him great glory. This lavish intimacy is our sustenance for life. That very pattern is to be replicated between a husband and wife within a marriage.
Others see blemishes in us that we cannot see or reach. Sometimes these are intimate areas only a spouse can address. Try as we might, we have blind spots. The husband who loves his wife will take great care in nourishing her and caring for her, not only physically, but spiritually, so she might become the woman she is called to be in Christ. He takes a personal and invested interest in her physical, emotional and spiritual health. This is a very intimate and strategic part of preparing her – not only for himself as a wife, but for Christ as His beloved Bride.
The Champion: Her Protector and Provider
Let’s face it: Adam failed Eve in that garden. He didn’t protect her from the enemy, and he didn’t provide the intervention she desperately needed. He didn’t fully understand his position or responsibility as a husband. He just didn’t get it. And neither did she. But now that we know better, let’s take a look at how a husband becomes the champion God has called every husband to be.
Christ does not lose a battle. It’s absolutely impossible. He is our victorious and mighty Warrior. And we all know there are many battles we face on a daily basis. They come in every shape and size. As the head of the wife, the husband also provides a shield as his wife’s protector and provider. Just as Adam, he is called to subdue – that is a position of authority. That position of authority grants him the ability to provide anything which may be needed.
A man’s strength is something women are genuinely and inherently drawn to. No woman wants a weak man. It’s that simple. But a man’s strength is not merely skin deep. A woman should be able to run to her husband for help, shelter, and tender strength – not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. That’s a tall order. And men, you’re worthy stewards of such a feminine soul. We may be strong, but we’re also innately delicate and fragile. Our souls ebb and flow in ways yours do not. We need your stability and strength just as much as we need your love and tenderness. And when we don’t have it, it takes us a lot longer to pull ourselves together.
Christ is our Defender. He is the One who wars on our behalf – even in ways we don’t necessarily see or know about. He is the One who takes the heat. He died for us and battled every temptation and enemy we face. He overcame so that we could be victorious in him. That is the model to which every husband is called. And there is no better example to give than Christ’s life and sacrifice, although we see God fulfilling such tall orders throughout the history of Israel as a nation. He continually defended her despite her grievous wandering — forgiving her and wooing her back to Himself time and again. He cleansed her, fought for her, and provided for her. And yes, He also disciplined her.
Husbands provide for their wives the sustenance they need – not only physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This is more than putting food on the table or clothes on our backs. Through conversation, intimacy, and communion together, that provision of soul goes extraordinarily deep. That is the sustenance we need. Providing that type of emotional and spiritual sustenance requires a patience that only Christ can teach, which only He can provide. Therefore, husbands must look to their Head, which is Christ, to be the husband God called them to be for their wives. That requires and demands an intimacy with Him unlike any other.
A Man of Greatness: The High Call
What a noble aspiration to be a steward of someone’s soul – the life of another human being. That is what a man becomes when he is a husband.
The scriptures contrast you to God Himself. You are her worthy steward. You are her champion. When you can look upon your wife and recognize yourself in her, you are no longer just a man. You become a “man of greatness”. Only then will you be able to model Christ in your marriage.
Your position is one of great authority.
Your responsibility is the stewardship of another human life unto God.
Your nobility is found in fulfilling a call only God can model.
No one else can teach you how to be a husband. Your position and responsibility as a husband is one only God can model for you. He is the Husband of all mankind – all of creation. That husbandry has been modeled for us in sacrificial love, through a life of humility and surrender, and with relentless passion. This nobility is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the weak-willed.
Husbandry is a high calling.
Men, when you have questions, there is only One to whom you can look for the answer. Just know this, Christ is your Husband also, even as you are His Bride. And that is a “feminine” role that will definitely help you become the husband He longs for you to be for your wife.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Cheers & Shalom,